We need to talk about what happened in Buffalo.
We need to talk about the lethal combination of white supremacy and easy access to guns. We need to grapple with the existential threat this poses for marginalized communities in the United States, and our country as a whole. We need to address the fact that a young man with racist and antisemitic views could access a semiautomatic weapon, and in a single act of hate cause an immeasurable amount of trauma. We need to push back on the narrative that this was a “lone wolf” or isolated incident, as this must be understood in the context of ongoing racial violence in a country with more guns than people. We need to understand that our country’s inaction on guns and inability to hold extremists accountable have led us to this very moment.
While this shooting happened in New York, we need to talk about it here in Massachusetts - because that could have been Nubian Square, Grove Hall, downtown Brockton, or Forest Park in Springfield. It could have been, and historically HAS been, a synagogue, a mosque, or a center serving immigrant communities. While we have comparatively strong gun laws in Massachusetts we are not immune to gun violence or white supremacy. Additionally, we cannot take the strength of our laws for granted. Other states known for gun safety legislation have seen pushback - just last week a U.S. appeals court ruled that California’s ban on the sale of semiautomatic weapons to young adults under the age of 21 is unconstitutional. This is particularly horrifying given what happened this weekend in Buffalo. We need to talk about that too.
The language we use when we address this violence is also very important. We have seen statements questioning the shooter’s mental health, and we worry about the harm caused by those words. We want to be clear - extremism cannot be explained away as a mental health issue. Hate is hate. Blaming racist violence on mental illness further stigmatizes people who struggle with their mental health and deflects from addressing the root causes of lethal white supremacy.
Finally, we need every community to talk about what happened, not just those targeted by extremists with guns. When every community stands shoulder to shoulder demanding an end to gun violence and hate we will see meaningful and lasting change. Our safety is in our solidarity.
Our hearts are with the Buffalo community, and all who were impacted by this profoundly traumatic incident. We are also thinking of those affected by the at least four other mass shootings that happened across the country this weekend. We stand in solidarity with all of you.